Adieu Gul Hameed Bhatti

Gul Hameed Bhatti as I will always remember him (photo courtesy GHB Facebook page)

Feb 5, 2010: Sad day. Woke up this morning to the news that Gul Hameed Bhatti had passed away last night. I knew he was not keeping well, but didn’t know how ill he was — dedicated journalist, sports editor, friend, equal rights upholder, and fine human being. Went to the funeral this afternoon and it brought back so many memories – the last time I was there was probably when his wife Razia Bhatti, founder editor of Newsline, died in 1996. I had known them both since 1981, when I was an intern at The Star evening paper, now also sadly no more. Razia was then editor of monthly Herald, down the corridor.

Gullast we spoke was when I called you about a story I was doing on the Pakistan Women’s Swimming Team for IPS, several months ago. Your own reports provided great material on the issue of course, like this 2008 story in The News on Sunday Sports page. My story got delayed several months because my father was very ill and subsequently passed away. I was relieved for him when his suffering was over, and Gul, I am relieved your suffering is over and that you are with your beloved Razia where ever you are, together again.

I just re-joined the Jang Group (Aman ki Asha initiative). They provided me space at your desk on the 4th floor – that’s when I learned you were very ill and not coming to office. I felt sad and also honoured to be sitting there. Kept meaning to call and touch base… Just two days ago talked to colleagues about having a tribute to you while you were still with us. That’s when I found the Gul Hameed Bhatti page on FB. Why do we always wait till people are no more to let them know how much they mean to us?

Just spoke to Zohra Yusuf and she told me about meeting you in November at the Newsline celebration – which I missed (again) because I was out of town. She said you were in a wheelchair, very frail and weak, with a blanket covering you, brought there by your children Kamil and Sara. Hats off to you for your guts in going out in that condition to pay tribute to Razia’s baby.

I will always remember you as the smiling, rather hefty Gul I last met quite some time ago (just found this lovely post by your younger brother Jalal, written during your illness – with photos of you and Razia and the kids). Goodbye Gul. You remain in our hearts and your legacy as a sports journalist will live on through your reports, and all those you trained and mentored.

Postscript: The day didn’t get any better. At around 3 pm there was a bomb blast at FTC flyover in Karachi: an explosives-laden motorcycle hit bus full of mourners heading to the Chehlum procession of Hazrat Imam Hussain (RA). At least 11 killed, 50 injured according to an initial report. Barely an hour later, there was another blast at the emergency gate of Jinnah Hospital, where people had gathered for information about their loved ones. The total death toll from both incidents has risen to 25.

The city is tense, but because of ‘Kashmir Day’ (started by Nawaz Sharif when he was PM to show solidarity with the Kashmiris) most shops and businesses were shut and traffic was sparse in any case. (Are they ever going to end this idiocy – shutting down shops and businesses and incurring a huge loss for Kashmir which makes not an iota of difference to anyone there?)

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One Response

  1. Thank you for remembering GHB in so beautiful words. May his soul rests in peace for ever. Ameen

    Like

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